TMD Basics: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of TMD

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) affect the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects the side of your head and your jaw. This joint creates the physical connection where your jaw bones meet your skull.

You have two temporomandibular joints, one on each side of our head, but they work as one. The temporomandibular joints are responsible for several important functions, including the ability to open your mouth, chew, speak and yawn. TMD occurs when the muscles used to chew and the joints of your jaw fail to work with each other.

Symptoms of TMD

Temporomandibular joint disorder is a common problem. The symptoms of TMD may occur on one or both sides of your head, face or jaw. The symptoms may cause one or more of the following:

  • Painful clicking or popping in your jaw when you bite, chew or yawn
  • Pain and tenderness in the jaw muscles
  • Pain that radiates to the jaw, face or neck
  • Limited movement or locking of your jaw
  • Difficulty opening and/or closing your mouth
  • Misalignment of upper and lower teeth
  • Earache
  • Headache and/or dizziness

Cause of TMD

There are a variety of factors that may lead to the development of this type of joint disorder. However, in most situations, unless a trauma to the jaw or jaw joint occurs, the exact cause may be unknown. Improper alignment of your teeth may contribute to the development of temporomandibular joint disorder. The discomfort of the disorder often worsens from the overuse of the muscles surround the joint, which is often caused by grinding or clenching your teeth.

Treatment of TMD

Many of the cases of TMD can be treated by resting the affected joint. More severe cases may require the attention of your dentist. A dentist will take X-rays of your jaw to determine how severe the disorder is and what the best treatment may be.

In some situations, your dentist may design a mouth guard for you to wear while sleeping to help prevent you from clenching and grinding your teeth. If your teeth are misaligned, your dentist will discuss the best treatment to repair the misalignment, which may include braces or Invisalign braces.

It is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you suspect the pain and discomfort you are experiencing may be related to TMD. The sooner you seek treatment, the easier it may be to remedy the situation.

Contact Great Lakes Dental to schedule an appointment if you are experiencing symptoms of TMD.